Simchat Torah starts Thursday, October 16th at sundown.
“Simhat Torah” Lithograph by Jossi Stern
Simchat Torah Dance – Sisu Ve’simchu (Rejoice and Be Joyous):
Simhat Torah Cakes (Lekach)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. margarine
1-1/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
coarse sugar [optional]
Beat the eggs with the sugar until light in color. Add the margarine.
Sift the flour with the baking powder, and add to the egg mixture.
Add the vanilla.
Grease a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drop batter onto foil, about a tablespoon at a time, leaving 4 inches between each cake.
Sprinkle with coarse sugar [optional].
Bake the cakes in a 350 degree oven until light brown, about 15-20 minutes.
(Recipe Source: The Sukkot/Simhat Torah Anthology, by Philip Goodman)
Hakkafot (Torah Processions), a poem by Saul Tchernihovsky
There’s crowding in the house of prayer,
There’s light and warmth a-glowing;
The house is filled with festive folk,
All pews and aisle o’erflowing.
The tumult’s great and loud the noise,
Against old men are crowding boys,
They even swamp the east wall.
Both girls and women stand penned up,
Each chair and bench invading,
With turbans, kerchiefs of all sorts,
And Sabbath clothes parading. . . .
“Come, cantor, start,” a voice rings clear,
And soon, behold! some boys appear,
The vanguard marches leisurely,
In rhythmic measure pacing,
Each youth with flag whose gilded top
An apple red is gracing.
They raise their flags, they raise them ‘loft,
And sister calls to brother soft,
And brother calls to sister.
The cantor starts. Behind him trail
Old men (their hands they’re clapping),
With Torah Scrolls close in their arms,
Encased in embroidered wrapping,
On whose gilded crowns bright, manifold,
The tiny tinkling bells of gold
Are ringing and are jingling.
The cantor struts, the cantor chants,
The choir raise their voices;
The treasurer and deacon sing,
The merry crowd rejoices.
Tra, ra, ra, ra, and bim, bim, bom-
Both young and old are frolicsome,
The rabbi’s no exception.
The Torah-bearers slowly tread
Through crowds exultant, thronging,
Who stop them, and kiss ardently
The Torah with great longing.
“God grant you life this coming year!”-
“Peace be with you, abundant cheer!”-
The maidens, too, are shouting.
The house is filled with light and warmth
And mirth and laughter’s buoyance;
One talks, one sings, one shouts: “Please hush!”
Each count’nance beams with joyance.
The cantor sings as he marches on:
“Hosanna, Savior, Holy One!”
with all the crowd responding.
Translated by Harry H. Fein